Shackelford “sits-in” as protest for being denied access to meeting

Dr. Ray Shackelford, an Apopka resident and often vocal speaker at City Council meetings, was denied entry into a planning session for the Old Florida Outdoor Festival at the Apopka City Hall this afternoon. In protest, he staged a “sit-in” in Mayor Joe Kilsheimer’s waiting room.

“They’re in the process of spending $350,000 of taxpayer money and they won’t let the public attend?” said Shackelford. “These meetings need to be open to the public.”

According to Shackelford, he attended the previous meeting and made known his intention to return today. He was perplexed at the idea of not being allowed to participate.

“I volunteered to be a part of the Old Florida Festival,” he said. “I praised the staff for their work. At least he (Mayor Kilsheimer) could have told me earlier. He knew I was planning on coming. What’s so secretive about an Old Florida Festival meeting?”

According to Glenn Irby, the City Administrator for Apopka, the meeting was never intended to be for the public.

“This was a staff level meeting,” he said. “Dr. Shackelford was at the first meeting, but that didn’t make it public. He invited himself to that meeting. He interjected and projected and it was not the proper venue.”

Shackelford also recognized two private citizens at the meeting, and again stated the unfairness of being excluded.

“There are other citizens attending the meeting,” he said. “But they were invited he (Mayor Kilsheimer) told me. What difference does that make? If one citizen is allowed at a meeting, other citizens should be allowed the same opportunity.”

According to Irby, the two men in question had direct ties to the Festival.

“Two private citizens were invited who are a very closely associated with the event,” said Irby. “Paul Faircloth of Mosquito Creek Outdoors and Matt Jordan of the Big Potato Foundation have both been a part of the event for at least two years. They were important to the planning process.”

Irby made the distinction between a City Council Meeting as being the right time for public input, and a staff meeting as being a time for a different purpose.

“His (Shackelford’s) public input is often valued at City Council meetings,” he said. “And that is the proper time for it.”

However Dr. Shackelford does not agree with that distinction.

“At the end of the day, it is not about the Mayor, the City Council, or me, but about all people and communities within the city of Apopka. The City of Apopka belongs to all of us.”

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